11 Feb 2014

New tick on the block

8:10 am on 11 February 2014

Fair Trade, the Heart Foundation and a range of environmental certifications are just a few certifications that companies use to distinguish themselves and their products from their competitors.

Now, for the first time, New Zealand businesses can officially be known as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender-friendly thanks to the Rainbow Tick - a new accreditation for companies wanting to show their employees and customers they value diversity and inclusion.

Rainbow Tick diversity and inclusion specialist Michael Stevens said it was not just pink wash, and that there was a real need for such a certification.

"There's more and more evidence internationally showing that people who come from the rainbow community, that is people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex, face discrimination in the workplace," Mr Stevens said.

"The Rainbow Tick is designed to help workplaces get to a place where they are safe and inclusive for employees from these communities. Once a company is awarded it, they get to decide how they want to employ it."

Mr Stevens said he could see it being used in the tourism sector "so foreign tourists arriving will know that they won't be treated badly or be misunderstood".

There had been a lot of interest from businesses wanting to apply for the certification, and the first to sign up will be Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) New Zealand. Head of human resources Martin King said his company would act as a pilot for the scheme.

"Diversity for us at CCA in New Zealand is a central component of our people strategy and it would be with many organisations but we really understand that the talent that we need to come into our organisation and the talent that we need to retain in our organisation is changing all the time and it's much more diverse now than it ever has been in the past," Mr King said.

"So we see it as a source of competitive advantage around talent."

Coca-Cola Amatil was a separate business to the United States-based Coca-Cola Company, which owns the fizzy drinks brand.

It has been criticised for refusing to withdraw its sponsorship from the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, which has been mired in controversy over Russia's poor treatment of homosexual and transgender people.

Mr King said his firm had no link to the sponsorship.

Rainbow Tick will be launched on 17 February.